>Mehaffie: Edison President Valdez will think “outside the box”

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Newly appointed President Cristobal (Cris) Valdez will be coming to a well-rounded institution that has made significant gains in recent years in the variety and types of degrees it offers, according to Edison Community College Trustee Darryl Mehaffie.
“He thinks outside the box,” Mehaffie told members and guests at Saturday’s monthly Darke County Republican Men’s Club meeting. “He wants to take the college to the next level, and will be good at negotiation and drawing people together to do it.”
Valdez leaves his position as Campus Provost and Chief Executive Officer for the Detroit Lakes campus of Minnesota State and Technical College, where he served since March 2007. He was also serving as Provost of the Wadena Campus and Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer for M State.
Valdez earned his bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Montana, master of social work at Eastern Washington University, and an Ed.D. in Community College Leadership at Oregon State University. Prior to his appointment at M State, Valdez was Dean of Students at the University of Montana-Helena.
According to a bio released by Edison, Valdez believes that comprehensive community and technical colleges allow people to dream and provide the opportunities for those people to realize their dreams. He believes community colleges should remain open-door institutions that aspire to both high academic standards and high rates of student retention and success. “As leaders, we must demand excellence in each of the above areas,” he said.
Mehaffie noted that Edison was not without its problems, referring in part to the 12-16 percent of its budget that is in the hands of decision-makers in Columbus. Valdez will have the vision to make strong strides to the future in all areas, including funding, for both Miami and Darke County campuses.
Mehaffie noted that no longer are students limited to Certificates and Associates Degrees, he said. They can get Bachelors and Masters Degrees without ever stepping foot off campus. These are offered through cooperative programs with the University of Dayton and other colleges.
He told the group that one of the strong positives of a community college is the ability to respond more quickly to the demands of industry than the traditional four-year college. One example he noted was the nursing program at Edison. “It has a waiting list for applicants,” he said.
Mehaffie noted that with Pres. Kenneth Yowell’s announcement that he intended to retire this year, the Board of Trustees began its search last August. It chose a “search” agency at a cost of more than $60,000. After providing the agency with the qualifications requirements, the Board received about 60 applications. This was quickly narrowed down to 14.
The Board then set up an advisory committee, which narrowed the list down to eight. The committee interviewed those applicants then narrowed the list down to four. These individuals were invited to the campus to meet with the Trustees.

The advisory committee held a vote, which it submitted to the Executive Committee of the Board, who then recommended two individuals to the entire Board. The position was offered to – and accepted by – Valdez. The official announcement will be made following the Trustees meeting Wednesday. Yowell, who served as Edison’s president for 23 years, retires April 1. Valdez will officially take the helm on May 2.

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